The City As Chess Board

chess city

Photo credit: Pedro Szekely

Via Henry Grabar at Salon:

Too often, [Pedro] Ortiz says, we think of the metropolis like a dartboard, one whose concentric circles of development decline in value and importance with distance from the center. This is the radial or orbital model of metropolitan planning, one that prizes centrality above all. It is, for Ortiz, a design whose failures have rendered it obsolete.

Instead, he suggests we imagine the metropolis as a chessboard, where every square plays a role and control of the center can be complemented by clever play along the edges. Ortiz calls this system of evenly spaced nodes and gridded traffic corridors the “reticular,” and it is his trademark method of planning. In a metropolitan scheme for Bogotá, Colombia, Ortiz actually placed chess pieces on a map, each corresponding to a particular sub-regional function: an airport, town center or commercial business district.


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